23 October 2014

WAR: James Risen: Government crackdown on whistleblowers bad for democracy & Are the costs of security at ‘any price’ too high? & What's wrong with the media coverage of ISIS in one picture & Canada, At War For 13 Years, Shocked That ‘A Terrorist’ Attacked Its Soldiers 12&13OKT&23SEP&22OKT14

verse of the day

You have ploughed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your power and in the multitude of your warriors, therefore the tumult of war shall rise against your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed.

- Hosea 10:13-14 


WAR. We are a warstate, not something a self proclaimed Christian nation should be proud of. Our national leadership, political, religious, economic, and our mainstream media, lead us into one war after another to the detriment of our nation and our souls. The people are manipulated into supporting this warstate through deception, fear mongering, lies and propaganda. We are at war with everything; poverty, diseases, drugs, terrorism. We are both war weary and war numb so the violations of our civil rights, civil liberties, human rights, health, economy, and society are tolerated because we are just tired of fighting and can't muster the energy to work for an end to constant war. We have reached the state of mental malleability similar to that of the German people in 1933 and the military-homeland security-industrial complex, corporate America, wall street, the bank-financial cabal, the 1% are profiting at our moral and economic expense. Here are some videos and articles exposing the methods and destructive power of our warstate from the +PBS NewsHour , +60 Minutes, +Daily Kos and  The Intercept .....

James Risen: Government crackdown on whistleblowers bad for democracy

  • 542
  • 130
  • +1
BY Morgan Till  October 13, 2014 at 12:01 AM EDT
Author and journalist James Risen bores into the many costs of the so-called “War on Terror” in his new book “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” out Tuesday. The toll is a heavy one in Risen’s telling — he weaves a tale of companies (and con-men) working the government contracting system to enrich themselves; of operations gone awry in the quest to prevent another 9/11; of lives wrecked by post-traumatic stress and of whistleblowers silenced.
PAY ANY PRICE James RisenBut it was his 2006 book, “State of War,” that contained a revelation that has brought the veteran New York Times investigative reporter to the point where his own freedom is in jeopardy. Risen wrote in that book of an intelligence operation codenamed “Merlin” that was designed to stymie Iran’s nuclear weapons program by having a middle man sell deliberately-flawed weapons blueprints to the Islamic Republic. Risen’s revelation led to a leak investigation by the Department of Justice, and he was eventually subpoenaed in 2008 to testify against the suspected leaker, Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official. Sterling was indicted for violating the Espionage Act for allegedly disclosing the program’s existence to Risen.
Earlier this summer, Risen’s effort to avoid testifying was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond had reversed a lower court ruling quashing the subpoena, and told the reporter he must testify against Sterling. The Supreme Court rejected Risen’s appeal, setting up a potential contempt citation — and possible jail time — for continued refusal to testify. However Attorney General Eric Holder has said journalists should never be jailed for their work. And on Friday, federal prosecutors said in court that the Risen subpoena may face a new review under recently-issued Administration guidelines.
Judy Woodruff sat down with Risen to discuss his new book, but in this online special, he speaks about his case and his thoughts on the Obama Administration’s latest prosecution of the age-old war against leaks.

Are the costs of security at ‘any price’ too high?

October 13, 2014 at 6:20 PM EDT
The ongoing war on terror has driven a dramatic rise in spending in the name of security. In his new book, “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” New York Times investigative journalist James Risen examines the cost -- in both treasure and lives. Judy Woodruff sits down with the author to discuss what he calls the new “Homeland Security-Industrial Complex.”


JUDY WOODRUFF: Next to the author of a new book on the costs, in lives and treasure, of the war on terror.JAMES RISEN, Author, “Pay Any Price “: The war or terror, the global war on terror has become essentially an endless war. It started with a search for justice. And I think, 13 years later, it’s become a hunt for cash.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s a stark conclusion James Risen has come to in the decade-plus since September 11. The veteran New York Times investigative journalist is best known for the explosive revelation that the Bush administration ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants after 9/11.
But now he has compiled examples of what he sees as that hunt for cash, greed for power, and lives wrecked in his new book, “Pay Any Price.”
The title of the book comes from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address when he said, let every nation know…
PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: That we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Your argument is that that “any price” has been way too high a price. How so?
JAMES RISEN: Well, we have had 13 years of war now. A lot of people have gotten into the war on terror in order to make a lot of money or to gain status or power, both in the government and outside of the government.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Did it have to be this way? Could it have been at some point avoided before it all happened?
JAMES RISEN: Well, there’s lots of points at which we made choices. We decided to invade Iraq. We decided to invade Afghanistan. We have occupied both those countries.
Then we began you know remote battles across other countries. And we built a huge infrastructure for what we call Homeland Security here at home. And so we have had an enormous, just hundreds of billions of dollars poured into national security, homeland security and what I call the — what I call the new homeland security industrial complex.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That is a play on Dwight Eisenhower’s famous phrase “the military industrial complex” coined amid the Cold War. Risen describes a new apparatus for a new war built in parallel, and almost entirely in secret, but with a staggering price tag.
JAMES RISEN: There are estimates that the entire war on terror, if you count Iraq, Afghanistan, all of the other things we have done, both domestically and internationally, have cost about $4 trillion. And that is an enormous transfer of wealth into a new sector of the economy, which is security.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you describe so many examples of how this has happened. You have got chapter after chapter.
Picking out a couple of them, there is one where you talk about certainly money stolen from Iraq. There is another, an operation called Alarbus, where — name for the shell company that was created by the Pentagon, their special operations command. They created their own spy agency.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why was that necessary? Why weren’t they able to work with the CIA?
JAMES RISEN: Well, there’s been all kinds of turf battles inside the government over control of intelligence. You know, intelligence has become kind of the crown jewel within the government. Everybody wants a piece of it over the last 13 years.
The Pentagon wants to get in on the CIA’s turf. And so they created these front companies to act like the CIA does around the world. And in this case, there are all kinds of allegations about whether some of the people involved were taking advantage of the operation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: At one point, they were talking about assassinating suspected…
JAMES RISEN: Right. And there — yes, and one of the foreigners involved in the operation tried to — allegedly tried to use the bank accounts, or wanted to use the bank accounts set up by Alarbus for money laundering, for massive money laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And so the government would have been engaged in this?
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it didn’t — it didn’t actually happen?
JAMES RISEN: No, no, but there was an FBI investigation that has been secret, until now, of what happened.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In another chapter, Jim Risen, you write about millions of dollars spent on programs that were completely fraudulent.
One was run by a man named Dennis Montgomery. He had worked in computer software, but he was a gambler.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And he sold the CIA and the Pentagon on technology that turned out to be not at all what he said it was.
There was — it’s difficult to tell in some of these cases who is scamming who.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Montgomery was, in his attorney’s words, a con man. He and his partners eventually procured more than $20 million in government contracts. One program had officials at the CIA convinced that Montgomery could uncover plans for the next al-Qaida attack.
JAMES RISEN: If you talk to Montgomery, he argues that the CIA wanted him to do what he was doing.
In this case, they began to believe, in this kind of war fever, that you could find al-Qaida messages hidden in Al-Jazeera broadcasts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Middle East broadcaster was, at the time, al-Qaida’s chosen outlet for broadcasting messages from Osama bin Laden. Montgomery convinced intelligence officials that his software could decode orders from the terror group to its operatives. So-called intelligence from his program about a new wave of airliner attacks was eventually delivered directly to President George W. Bush in December 2003, and led Mr. Bush to issue an extraordinary order.
JAMES RISEN: This highly secret program was used by the Bush administration to ground planes all over Europe and the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: When actually there was nothing to it.
JAMES RISEN: Right. Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It was a hoax.
JAMES RISEN: It’s this very complicated story about a man recognizing an opportunity who had never been involved in national security before, and the CIA and the military all just hungry for whoever could come with the latest idea.
JUDY WOODRUFF: At the end of the day though, yes, money may well have been wasted,in the million, hundreds of millions, and beyond, outlandish things happened, but the country hasn’t had another huge terror attack, the way we did on 9/11.
So, could it be argued, could the government argue, we have done our job, even if we made some mistakes?
JAMES RISEN: I think that’s probably their argument.
So, the question is, what — did we overestimate the threat and build up this huge infrastructure while hyping a threat, or has the — has this massive amount of money really had an effect?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there any way to dial it back? Are you saying…
JAMES RISEN: I think the country has to begin to get out of the constant state of fear over terrorism that we have been in since 9/11.
To me, it reminds me a little bit of the McCarthy period, when we had this abstract threat of Russia. Everyone knew that Russia was a threat, but we didn’t know that much about Soviet communism at the time. And so, because it was sort of abstract, we were able to think that the Russians were 10-feet tall.
I think we have had something similar happen in the post-9/11 world where, because al-Qaida and Islamic terrorism are kind of new and unknown threats to us, we have made them 10-feet tall, when, in fact, they are not 10-feet tall.
JUDY WOODRUFF: James Risen, author of “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War,” thank you very much.
JAMES RISEN: Thank you for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s much more from the interview on our Web site, including James Risen speaking on his refusal to identify a confidential source, in defiance of a federal subpoena.

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 07:57 AM PDT

What's wrong with the media coverage of ISIS in one picture

Screenshot of CBS News, with BIll O'Reilly outlining his plan to defeat ISIS
No word on what in the hell CBS was thinking, but for some reason they had Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday morning to outline his plan to defeat ISIS (as pictured above). So you take The A-Team, add a dash of MacGyver, and a splash of an O'Reilly wet dream and this is what passes for analysis of an issue with huge and dire international implications? Oy.
And by the way, the military expert O'Reilly had on his own Fox News' show on Monday night called the idea "terrible and "immoral."

Originally posted to Barbara Morrill on Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 07:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos

Canada, At War For 13 Years, Shocked That ‘A Terrorist’ Attacked Its Soldiers

Featured photo - Canada, At War For 13 Years, Shocked That ‘A Terrorist’ Attacked Its Soldiers
(updated below – Update II)
TORONTO – In Quebec on Monday, two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who, as The Globe and Mail reported, “converted to Islam recently and called himself Ahmad Rouleau.” One of the soldiers died, as did Couture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife. Police speculated that the incident was deliberate, alleging the driver waited for two hours before hitting the soldiers, one of whom was wearing a uniform. The incident took place in the parking lot of a shopping mall 30 miles southeast of Montreal, “a few kilometres from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the military academy operated by the Department of National Defence.”
The right-wing Canadian government wasted no time in seizing on the incident to promote its fear-mongering agenda over terrorism, which includes pending legislation to vest its intelligence agency, CSIS, with more spying and secrecy powers in the name of fighting ISIS. A government spokesperson asserted “clear indications” that the driver “had become radicalized.”
In a “clearly prearranged exchange,” a conservative MP, during parliamentary question time, asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper (pictured above) whether this was considered a “terrorist attack”; in reply, the prime minister gravely opined that the incident was “obviously extremely troubling.” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney pronounced the incident “clearly linked to terrorist ideology,” while newspapers predictably followed suit, calling it a “suspected terrorist attack” and “homegrown terrorism.” CSIS spokesperson Tahera Mufti said “the event was the violent expression of an extremist ideology promoted by terrorist groups with global followings” and added: “That something like this would happen in a peaceable Canadian community like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu shows the long reach of these ideologies.”
In sum, the national mood and discourse in Canada is virtually identical to what prevails in every Western country whenever an incident like this happens: shock and bewilderment that someone would want to bring violence to such a good and innocent country (“a peaceable Canadian community like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu”), followed by claims that the incident shows how primitive and savage is the “terrorist ideology” of extremist Muslims, followed by rage and demand for still more actions of militarism and freedom-deprivation. There are two points worth making about this:
First, Canada has spent the last 13 years proclaiming itself a nation at war. It actively participated in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and was an enthusiastic partner in some of the most extremist War on Terror abuses perpetrated by the U.S. Earlier this month, the Prime Minister revealed, with the support of a large majority of Canadians, that “Canada is poised to go to war in Iraq, as [he] announced plans in Parliament [] to send CF-18 fighter jets for up to six months to battle Islamic extremists.” Just yesterday, Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson flamboyantly appeared at the airfield in Alberta from which the fighter jets left for Iraq and stood tall as he issued the standard Churchillian war rhetoric about the noble fight against evil.
It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny fraction of that violence back to that country. Regardless of one’s views on the justifiability of Canada’s lengthy military actions, it’s not the slightest bit surprising or difficult to understand why people who identify with those on the other end of Canadian bombs and bullets would decide to attack the military responsible for that violence.
That’s the nature of war. A country doesn’t get to run around for years wallowing in war glory, invading, rendering and bombing others, without the risk of having violence brought back to it. Rather than being baffling or shocking, that reaction is completely natural and predictable. The only surprising thing about any of it is that it doesn’t happen more often.
The issue here is not justification (very few people would view attacks on soldiers in a shopping mall parking lot to be justified). The issue is causation. Every time one of these attacks occurs — from 9/11 on down — Western governments pretend that it was just some sort of unprovoked, utterly “senseless” act of violence caused by primitive, irrational, savage religious extremism inexplicably aimed at a country innocently minding its own business. They even invent fairy tales to feed to the population to explain why it happens: they hate us for our freedoms.
Those fairy tales are pure deceit. Except in the rarest of cases, the violence has clearly identifiable and easy-to-understand causes: namely, anger over the violence that the country’s government has spent years directing at others. The statements of those accused by the west of terrorism, and even the Pentagon’s own commissioned research, have made conclusively clear what motivates these acts: namely, anger over the violence, abuse and interference by Western countries in that part of the world, with the world’s Muslims overwhelmingly the targets and victims. The very policies of militarism and civil liberties erosions justified in the name of stopping terrorism are actually what fuels terrorism and ensures its endless continuation.
If you want to be a country that spends more than a decade proclaiming itself at war and bringing violence to others, then one should expect that violence will sometimes be directed at you as well. Far from being the by-product of primitive and inscrutable religions, that behavior is the natural reaction of human beings targeted with violence. Anyone who doubts that should review the 13-year orgy of violence the U.S. has unleashed on the world since the 9/11 attack, as well as the decades of violence and interference from the U.S. in that region prior to that.
Second, in what conceivable sense can this incident be called a “terrorist” attack? As I have written many times over the last several years, and as some of the best scholarship proves, “terrorism” is a word utterly devoid of objective or consistent meaning. It is little more than a totally malleable, propagandistic fear-mongering term used by Western governments (and non-Western ones) to justify whatever actions they undertake. As Professor Tomis Kapitan wrote in a brilliant essay in The New York Times on Monday: “Part of the success of this rhetoric traces to the fact that there is no consensus about the meaning of ‘terrorism.’”
But to the extent the term has any common understanding, it includes the deliberate (or wholly reckless) targeting of civilians with violence for political ends. But in this case in Canada, it wasn’t civilians who were targeted. If one believes the government’s accounts of the incident, the driver waited two hours until he saw a soldier in uniform. In other words, he seems to have deliberately avoided attacking civilians, and targeted a soldier instead – a member of a military that is currently fighting a war.
Again, the point isn’t justifiability. There is a compelling argument to make that undeployed soldiers engaged in normal civilian activities at home are not valid targets under the laws of war (although the U.S. and its closest allies use extremely broad and permissive standards for what constitutes legitimate military targets when it comes to their own violence). The point is that targeting soldiers who are part of a military fighting an active war is completely inconsistent with the common usage of the word “terrorism,” and yet it is reflexively applied by government officials and media outlets to this incident in Canada (and others like it in the UK and the US).
That’s because the most common functional definition of “terrorism” in Western discourse is quite clear. At this point, it means little more than: “violence directed at Westerners by Muslims” (when not used to mean “violence by Muslims,” it usually just means: violence the state dislikes). The term “terrorism” has become nothing more than a rhetorical weapon for legitimizing all violence by Western countries, and delegitimizing all violence against them, even when the violence called “terrorism” is clearly intended as retaliation for Western violence.
This is about far more than semantics. It is central to how the west propagandizes its citizenries; the manipulative use of the “terrorism” term lies at heart of that. As Professor Kapitan wrote yesterday in The New York Times:
Even when a definition is agreed upon, the rhetoric of “terror” is applied both selectively and inconsistently. In the mainstream American media, the “terrorist” label is usually reserved for those opposed to the policies of the U.S. and its allies. By contrast, some acts of violence that constitute terrorism under most definitions are not identified as such — for instance, the massacre of over 2000 Palestinian civilians in the Beirut refugee camps in 1982 or the killings of more than 3000 civilians in Nicaragua by “contra” rebels during the 1980s, or the genocide that took the lives of at least a half million Rwandans in 1994. At the opposite end of the spectrum, some actions that do not qualify as terrorism are labeled as such — that would include attacks by Hamas, Hezbollah or ISIS, for instance, against uniformed soldiers on duty.
Historically, the rhetoric of terror has been used by those in power not only to sway public opinion, but to direct attention away from their own acts of terror.
At this point, “terrorism” is the term that means nothing, but justifies everything. It is long past time that media outlets begin skeptically questioning its usage by political officials rather than mindlessly parroting it.
Photo: AP/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld
UPDATE: Multiple conservative commentators have claimed that this article and my subsequent discussion of it are about this morning’s shooting of a solider in Ottawa. Aside from the fact that what I wrote is expressly about a completely different incident – one that took place in Quebec on Monday – this article and my comments were published before this morning’s shooting spree was reported. So unless someone believes I possess powers of clairvoyance, the claim that I was commenting on the Ottawa shooting – about which virtually nothing is known, including the identity and motive of the shooter(s) – is obviously false.
Then there’s also the extremely predictable accusation that I was justifying the attack on the soldiers. I know from prior experience in discussing these questions that no matter how clear you make it that you are writing about causation and not justification, many will still distort what you write to claim you’ve justified the attack. That’s true even if one makes as clear as the English language permits that you’re not writing about justification: “The issue here is not justification (very few people would view attacks on soldiers in a shopping mall parking lot to be justified). The issue is causation.” If there’s a way to make that any clearer, please let me know.
One more time: the difference between “causation” and “justification” is so obvious that it should require no explanation. If one observes that someone who smokes four packs of cigarettes a day can expect to develop emphysema, that’s an observation about causation, not a celebration of the person’s illness. Only a willful desire to distort, or some deep confusion, can account for a failure to process this most basic point.
UPDATE II: In that brilliant essay I referenced above, published just three days ago in The New York Times, Professor Tomis Kaptian made this point:
Obviously, to point out the causes and objectives of particular terrorist actions is to imply nothing about their legitimacy — that is an independent matter….
That point is so simple and, as he said, “obvious” that I have a hard time understanding what could account for some commentators conflating the two other than a willful desire to mislead.